By Jack Rico
04.22.2014 | By Jack Rico |
At the beginning of this year, I posted an article titled “The Best Netflix Streaming Movies To Watch Right Now!” that has garnered over 14,000 shares. Even though it was a hit with our users, none of those films were Spanish-language movies. That was done deliberately because I was writing the sequel, so to speak, “The Best ‘Spanish-Language’ Movies Streaming on Netflix!”. Hispanics are have been the largest moviegoing demographic in the United States, per the MPAA, for quite some time and they don’t seem to be going anywhere. But the numbers have declined showing a new growth in DVD and Streaming viewing. Netflix Streaming is known to have the largest library of all streaming platforms with 4622 titles to be exact as of the date of this article, most of them B-movie junk, but there are some gems, specially Spanish-language gems! Actually, some of the best movies of the last 20 years are coming from Spain and Latin America. Because of this, and the fact that Latinos moviegoers are deciding to stay home now, I have compiled a list of the best Spanish-language films on Netflix Streaming and boy are they good! Enjoy.
Gabo: The Creation of Gabriel García Marquéz (2015, 1hr 30m, Director Justin Webster)
Synopsis: How did a boy from a tiny town on the Caribbean coast become a writer who won the hearts of millions? How did he change our perception of reality with his work? The answers lie in the incredible story of Gabriel García Márquez, the 1982 Nobel Prize winner in Literature. A law-school dropout and political journalist who grew up in the poverty and violence of northern Colombia, Gabriel García Márquez became the writer of globally celebrated, critically-acclaimed books including Love in the Time of Cholera and One Hundred Years of Solitude. Known as “Gabo” to all of Latin America, Gabriel García Márquez’s sensual, “magical” sensibility leds him to the forefront of the political struggles of the 1970s and 1980s—including a pivotal and previously unknown role in negotiations between Cuban leader Fidel Castro and American President Bill Clinton—and into the hearts of readers across the world.
Libertador (2013, 1hr 58m, Director Alberto Arvelo / Édgar Ramírez, Erich Wildpret, María Valverde)
This is the movie that 6 countries in Latin America have been waiting to see. For the first time, the story of Simón Bolívar, the George Washington of Latin America, comes to the big screen. This Venezuelan/Spanish biopic is to a certain extent shocking because you can’t believe it isn’t a Hollywood production. With a $50 million dollar budget, it should be. It is also one of the rare Hispanic epics you’ll ever see on the big screen. Edgar Ramirez is perfectly casted playing Bolívar and director Alberto Arvelo creates a convincing 1800’s period piece full of well done battle-scenes and marvelous landscapes. The production is top notch; from the costume designs to the casting, not much can be critiqued. This is an enjoyable, illuminating look at one of the great men in Latin American history.
Synopsis: Édgar Ramírez stars as 19th-century revolutionary Simón Bolívar in this epic chronicle of the charismatic leader’s personal evolution. From his aristocratic roots to the loss of his wife, Bolivar fought over 100 battles against the Spanish Empire in South America. He rode over 70,000 miles on horseback. His military campaigns covered twice the territory of Alexander the Great, this is the story of the events that shaped his destiny.
Like Water For Chocolate (Romance, R, 1hr 45m, 1992, Director Alfonso Arau / Marco Leonardi, Lumi Cavazos, Regina Torné)
When it comes to Spanish language romance, there is really no other film that has captivated so many moviegoers across the world through its combination of traditional melodrama and exotic fairy tale. As a result, it earned all 11 Ariel awards of the Mexican Academy of Motion Pictures, including the Ariel Award for Best Picture, and became the highest grossing Spanish-language film ever released in the United States in 1992. Watch it and you’ll understand why it has become a Latin American classic that has satisfied so many people.
Synopsis: This movie is about how life used to be in Mexico. It is a love story between Pedro and Tita, and why they coudn’t get married because Tita’s mother wanted her oldest daughter to get married first, and have Tita to stay and take care of her. It shows how marriage was imposed on those times, and how a love between two people can change everything. This picture set a new epoch in Mexican movies all over the world.
The Artist and the Model (R, 2013, 1hr 45m, Director Fernando Trueba / Jean Rochefort, Aida Folch, Claudia Cardinale)
This is one of the most cinematographically beautiful films I saw in all of 2013. Spanish director Fernando Trueba, known for directing the Oscar wining “Belle Epoque,” the Oscar nominated “Chico and Rita,” and “Calle 54,” filmed a black and white opus about the process and motivation of art, love, old age and life’s search for beauty. Sophisticated, philosophical and wonderfully acted by 84 year-old French veteran Jean Rochefort, The Artist and the Model is a slow paced film that you visually appreciate and whose story you immerse heart and soul in. The result is an emotionally and thought provoking experience that will satisfy indie and foreign film lovers.
Synopsis: In 1943, disillusioned by the horrors of two world wars, sculptor Marc Cros gives up his art to live quietly in occupied France. When his wife brings home a young Spanish refugee, her beauty inspires the 80-year-old man to return to work.
Blancanieves (PG-13, Fantasía, 1hr 44m, 2012, Director Pablo Berger / Maribel Verdú, Emilio Gavira, Daniel Giménez Cacho
Remember Best Picture winner The Artist? This cinematic jewel threw silent film back into the Hollywood spotlight and now Spain has created one of their own – a silent reimagination of Snow White from Spanish director Pablo Berger. The film, winner of the Mexico’s Ariel Award for Best Pic, has tremendous passion and humor, but a stark cruelty and tremendous pain and loss. This visual feast is artfully done and looks like it could have been done by some of the greatest directors of the 1920’s.
Synopsis: This silent, black-and-white Spanish take on “Snow White” follows a young woman who escapes her evil stepmother to join a band of bullfighting dwarves.
La Lengua de las Mariposas (G, 92m, 1951, Director Robert Wise / Michael Rennie, Patricia Neal, Hugh Marlowe)
Nominated for 13 Goya Awards (the Spanish Oscar) and with music done by acclaimed director Alejandro Amenábar, this Spanish film about passion, fascism, betrayal, nature and lost innocence, is one of the great underrated gems in the Netflix streaming library. It is a romance for the senses that is beautifully filmed and brilliantly acted. If you appreciate history and beautiful acting, you will fall in love with this movie.
Synopsis: At the onset of the Spanish Civil War, a sheltered boy (Manuel Lozano) in rural northern Spain forms an indelible bond with his kindly leftist teacher (Fernando Fernán Gómez), who imparts his love for nature to the young student. Director Jose Luis Cuerda gentle and nostalgic drama, based on the short stories of Manuel Rivas, was
También La Lluvia (Drama, 2010, 1hr 43m, Director Icíar Bollaín / Gael García Bernal, Luis Tosar, Karra Elejalde)
Winner of Mexico’s Oscar, the Ariel Award, for Best Ibero-American Film and three Goya Awards (Spain’s Oscar), one of which was Best Original Score for the work of Alberto Iglesias, is as well written, casted, acted, shot and edited movie as you’ll find. Gael García and Tosar deliver great performances about a subject matter that could have easily been misconstrued as a boring documentary. Easy to follow and shot in Bolivia, this film sweeps you into many layers of storytelling and plot twists throughout. It has a realistic vibe to it as it crescendos to an unpredictable ending. If you like dramas that don’t rely on VFX to entertain you, but superb storytelling, you’ll enjoy this greatly.
Synopsis: In this provocative film-within-a-film, a director heads to Cochabamba, Bolivia, to shoot a movie about the trespasses of Christopher Columbus in the New World, only to find the locals protesting present-day exploitation of the poor.
Instructions Not Included (PG-13, 2013, 2hr 1m, Director Eugenio Derbez / Eugenio Derbez, Karla Souza, Jessica Lindsey)
This is the breakout film of Mexican comedian Eugenio Derbez. It also became the box-office talk of 2013. The production cost $5,500,000 and grossed almost $100 million worldwide, making it the highest-grossing Spanish-language film and the fourth highest-grossing foreign film in the US. Much of the popularity had to do with the charming chemistry Derbez had with child actor Loreto Peralta, the fun blend of Spanish and English and the very much talked about ending.
Synopsis: Unable to locate the elusive mother of a baby girl left on his doorstep, an Acapulco playboy unexpectedly begins to develop feelings for the tot.
Valentín (2002, 1hr 23m, Director Alejandro Agresti / Rodrigo Noya, Carmen Maura, Alejandro Agresti, Julieta Cardinali)
Many people are suckers for movies with a kid protagonist. Why? You can’t help but fall in love with them. If the script allows them to display all their glory of cuteness, you’re in for a long night. Almost reminiscent of the Italian masterpiece “Cinema Paradiso” from Giuseppe Tornatore, “Kolya” or “My Life as a Dog,” “Valentín” is a celebration of faith, hope, love, disappointment, loss and boyhood purity. Winner of the Silver Condor, Argentina’s Oscar Award, this utterly charming and captivating movie is clever, humorous and poignant. The small but talented actor, Rodrigo Noya, is simply amazing. He carries this movie all by himself and he’ll make you smile from ear to ear. People say that the best movies are sometimes the simplest and that is the case for “Valentín“. Never too sentimental, never cheesy, this warm-hearted film is full of fantasy and realism too hard to forget.
Synopsis: Valentin, a 9-year-old boy living with his grandmother in late-1960s Buenos Aires, believes his family has problems that only he can solve. He dreams of being reunited with his mother, while his abusive dad uses him as bait to attract women.
La Casa Del Fin De Los Tiempos (2003, 1hr 41m, Director Alejandro Hidalgo / Rosmel Bustamante, Adriana Calzadilla, Simona Chirinos )
Synopsis: Dulce is a mother of two who experiences terrifying encounters with apparitions inside her old house, a place where a tragedy occurs. Thirty years later, an elderly Dulce returns home to decipher the mystery that has tormented her for so long.
El Callejón De Los Milagros (1998, 2hrs 20m, Director Jorge Fons /Salma Hayek, Ernesto Gómez Cruz, María Rojo)
Synopsis: Based on the Nobel Prize Winner’s novel, the Egyptian Naguib Mahfouz. The story, translated from El Cairo to Mexico City’s downtown, narrates the life of the members of the neighbourhood and the connection between them Don Ru, the owner of the local pub; Eusebia, his wife; Chava, his son and Abel his friend, who emigrate to USA in search of fortune; Susanita, the single landtender always dreaming to marry a good man; Guicho, the pub’s employee, who extracts the money when Don Ru is not there and finally marries Susanita; Alma, the very good looking girl, the Abel’s dream, who becomes a luxury prostitute while he’s away; Jimmy, the handsome young man Don Ru becomes infatuated with, etc. This movie won the Ariel (the Mexican Oscar) as best movie in 1995.
Under The Same Moon (2007, PG-13, 1hr 50m, Director Patricia Riggen / Kate del Castillo, Adrian Alonso, Eugenio Derbez, America Ferrera)
La Mujer De Mi Hermano (2006, R, 1hr 29m, Director Ricardo de Montreuil / Bárbara Mori, Christian Meier, Manolo Cardona)
Synopsis: Unable to get intimate with her husband of 10 years, a woman embarks on a steamy affair with his brother.